It all started last winter when I decided to begin collecting fashion prints. Not just images of fashion prints on Pinterest, but real antique fashion prints. The images are pretty, but the thought of having the real piece of paper printed and hand-colored by people two hundred years ago gives me a thrill. I feel as though touching it makes me a part of history (although so far I haven’t been whisked back in time, unfortunately).
As more and more little packages began arriving from England, France, Australia, and the U.S., I started to lose track of which prints I already had, causing me to have a few duplicates. Scrivener, an application I use for writing projects, seemed an obvious choice for organizing my fashion prints. I simply grouped the scanned images into chapters by year, thus making it simple to refer to when considering the purchase of new prints.
But what I really wanted was some sort of reference book with all the prints and descriptions to use in my writing projects. Those I purchased online were beautiful and extremely well done, but they didn’t include them all. I wanted a book with them all. I didn’t realize at the time how large a book that would be, or that it was probably an impossible task. It didn’t matter. I wasn’t thinking of publishing a book or anything. I just wanted to have them on hand.
So I started with Ackermann’s Repository, because I knew where to download issues from all of its twenty years. It was tedious going, but it gave me something to do in the afternoons when Dad and I were watching TV (I’m a caregiver in the winter), and I had to be able to switch my attention off and on when he needed something. I went through every issue and screenshot the two prints from each issue as well as the descriptions and fashion commentary. And a few other things I found of interest there. (Someday I want to go through and read some of the other articles and stories as well.) I kept everything in folders by month and year, and eventually I started typing out the text and organizing it all in another Scrivener project. It turned out to be a HUGE project: 480 fashion prints and over 200,000 words. (Fortunately, I am a very fast typist.)
About halfway through, I began to think perhaps other authors might benefit from having this information. It wouldn’t take much to format it as an e-book. It didn’t occur to me to put it up for sale until later, when several authors assured me they would love to purchase it. And frankly, the process of formatting so many images and text turned out to be extremely time-consuming, even when my plan was for an e-book only. Charging a few dollars for such a comprehensive project seemed reasonable enough. Little did I know how large the book was going to be. 1462 pages, to be precise. Amazon warned me it was a big file. I hope the buyers don’t have problems with it.
Eventually I mentioned it at a Facebook party, and everyone kept asking if it was going to be in print. Well, I hadn’t thought of doing that right away, but as long as I had all the files, I thought I might as well look into it. And when I did, I had some surprises coming.
First of all, Createspace won’t print a 1462-page book. In fact, Createspace’s limit is 480 pages. So I had to break the book down into four parts: 1809-1814, 1815-1818, 1819-1822, 1823-1828. Four books, in addition to the original monstrously huge e-book. Four books is four times the amount of work, but oh well. I plugged away.
That leads to the second surprise. Color books of 300-400 pages are very expensive. The lowest price Createspace would allow me to set was $46+, with zero royalties. That pretty much floored me. Who’s going to pay $200 for four books? But hey, they were already done. I couldn’t stop now.
However, it occurred to me that many potential purchasers might not be that interested in the fashion commentary. What if I put together a print book with only the fashion prints? Since there were 480 prints alone, the minimum number of pages I needed was 492. Createspace only does a maximum of 480. So I decided to check out Ingram Spark. Ingram will publish a wider range of sizes and pages than Createspace, so I initiated the process. Ingram will do an e-book for the same price as a print book, so that’s how I ended up with another e-book (with the prints only) as well as another print book.
Seven. That’s seven versions in all. Does that sound excessive? Of course it does. But through it all, I learned so much. I hope historical fashion connoisseurs will find at least one of them useful.
And now… I think I better get back to writing stories.
P.S. I also created a Regency fashion print Facebook group. Here’s the link if you are interested: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2216340281934103.
Also, today at 4 p.m. EDT, I’m hosting a release party for my Ackermann books. If you’d like to attend, you must first join the group above, and then you’ll have access to the event. Guest authors include: Ella Quinn, Heather King, Caroline Warfield, Jude Knight, Louisa Cornell, Bluestocking Belles, Cora Lee, Cerise DeLand, Collette Cameron, Rue Allyn, Lizzi Tremayne, Victoria Vane, Elizabeth Ellen Carter, Aileen Fish, and Sherry Ewing. Will I see you there?
Fashion Prints with Commentary
Amazon • Kobo • iBooks
$49.99 (374 pp)
Ackermann’s Fashion Prints 1809-1814 (Vol. 1)
$49.99 (360 pp)
Ackermann’s Fashion Prints 1815-1818 (Vol. 2)
$49.99 (364 pp)
Ackermann’s Fashion Prints 1819-1822 (Vol. 3)
$52.99 (408 pp)
Ackermann’s Fashion Prints 1823-1828 (Vol. 4)
Fashion Prints without Commentary
Amazon • B&N • iBooks • Kobo
$34.99 (496 pp)
Amazon • Barnes & Noble